Conclusions of the report:
- Police sometimes decide to publicise the name of the subject of an investigation for operational reasons, for example, to encourage potential witnesses to come forward. However, the naming of suspects (or the confirming of a name when it is put to a force) when there is no operational need to do so is wrong.
- When a BBC reporter threatened to break the story prematurely unless he was given inside access to the raid on Sir Cliff’s home, South Yorkshire Police should not have tried to cut a deal with him, but rather approached senior BBC executives to explain the damage that such premature disclosure could do to the investigation. The BBC’s Director General, Lord Hall, confirmed to the Committee that the BBC would act on such requests from Chief Constables.
- In the absence of any such approach from South Yorkshire, the BBC was well within its rights to run the story, although as a result Sir Cliff himself has suffered enormous, irreparable damage to his reputation.
- It appears from near-contemporaneous notes that the BBC reporter clearly identified the source of his leak as Operation Yewtree. It is unfortunate therefore that South Yorkshire Police did not notify the Metropolitan Police so that the source of the Yewtree leak could be investigated.
No British citizen should have to watch their home being raided by the police live on television. Sir Cliff Richard has suffered enormous and irrepreable damage to his reputation and he is owed an apology over the way matters were handled. We are not suprised that he wishes to sell his home.
Police forces should consider carefully how they deal with approaches from journalists on such matters in the future. Someone in possession of sensitive information decided to leak details of the investigation to the media. We deplore this. South Yorkshire assert that the journalist stated it came from Operation Yewtree. The journalist denies this. South Yorkshire should have alerted the Metropolitan Police immediately. Their reasons for failing to do so are unsustainable.”